The Crocodile's Last Embrace: A Jade del Cameron Mystery
by Suzanne Arruda
Review by Mel Jacob
NAL Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451231178
Date: 07 September 2010 List Price $15.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Unlike earlier Jade del Cameron novels, much of The Crocodile's Last Embrace by Suzanne Arruda takes place in Jade's thoughts, dreams, and strange visions. Haunted by images of the dead David Worthy, once her fiancÚ, she worries she is losing her mind. She also dwells at length on Sam Featherstone who left for America to sell a documentary. Agonizing over Sam, she witnesses an apparent accident that becomes a murder investigation when Jade tells the police what she observed and convinces them to re-examine the scene.
Complicating Jade's worries, she learns Lilith, David's mother, has escaped prison and may be trying to kill her. Shamans warn her to beware a crocodile and she wonders if they might mean cold hearted, implacable Lilith. Someone helped the woman escape and might also be stalking Jade.
When a large croc kills a man near a campsite Jade was considering for a camping spot with a group of young girls, the visions and warnings become an all too solid reality. Links between the victim and the earlier "accident" surface and appear to indicate a sinister plot centered on a gold mine.
Others are also threatened including close friends of Jade and a local shaman. Jade and her allies can find no information on the whereabouts of Lilith or her henchmen. Suspicion falls on friends and strangers. The pressure builds as one by one promising suspects either die or are exonerated. The threatened kidnapping of a young girl propels Jade to act.
As always, Ms. Arruda provides the fascinating setting of Africa in the 1920s and uses the British Colony of Kenya to advantage. Jade, while outspoken and bold, still comes from a culture where women are respected, but also supposed to focus on hearth and family. Ms. Arruda provides a number of other strong women as friends for Jade. Not quite as action oriented as Jade's earlier adventures, the novel picks up speed and provides a rousing climax with the crocodile the shaman foresaw and a few surprises.